Home Fires

It’s difficult to believe that Bruce Paltrow, Tom Fontana, and John Tinker, the writer-producer-directors who brought us the terrific St. Elsewhere, have reunited to create this drab little sitcom. It’s about Teddy and Anne Kramer, a bland suburban couple played by the perfectly good actors Michael Brandon (Dempsey and Makepeace) and Kate Burton (Jake’s Women). The Kramers have two standard-issue sitcom brats, 14-year-old Jesse (Jarrad Paul) and 18-year-old Libby (Charles in Charge‘s Nicole Eggert).

Dan Quayle should get a load of the Kramer clan’s family values; the first two episodes center on little other than teenage sex. In this week’s debut, Libby wants her boyfriend to sleep in her bedroom for the weekend; the second show centers on Jesse’s obsessive daydreaming about seeing his female French teacher naked. Quality of jokes? ”I was just having a private talk with Dad,” says Libby when Jesse walks into the room. ”Oh,” says her brother eagerly, ”did you get to the part about venereal disease, condoms, and bodily fluids yet?” Someone turn a hose on this kid.

Home Fires is a mess on every level. The show features a laugh track of mild chuckles that fades in and out of the proceedings,and some scenes are shot with what looks like a bobbling hand-held camera for no apparent reason. Pitifully self-conscious, each episode begins with a family counseling session conducted by a therapist played by Norman Lloyd — yes, beloved Dr. Auschlander of St. Elsewhere. The Kramers blurt their innermost thoughts, which tend to be on…teenage sex and fear of teenage sex. Maybe Paltrow, Fontana, and Tinker should have a little group therapy session of their own. D